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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Insidious’ an engaging but weak sequel

    %09Blumhouse+Productions

    Blumhouse Productions

    Picking up mere hours after the first installment, “Insidious: Chapter 2” focuses on the continued hauntings of the Lambert family, consisting of father Josh (Patrick Wilson), mother Renai (Rose Byrne), and sons Dalton (Ty Simpkins) and Foster (Andrew Astor).

    The story deals with both past and present events, directly incorporating and expanding upon “Insidious.” Before picking up where the first left off, “Insidious 2” takes us 25 years into the past, when Josh Lambert was a young child haunted by a figure that could only be seen in photographs. After this brief introductory scene, we jump to the present.

    The Lambert family relocates from their haunted house to the house of Josh’s mother, Lorraine (Barbara Hershey). The film seems to seek the answer to a long-asked question of haunted house movies: “If the place is haunted, why don’t they just move?” But soon enough, bizarre happenings start to occur in the house. They soon realize that the issue isn’t whether or not the house is haunted, but that Josh himself may be harboring the being responsible for the paranormal activity.

    “Insidious 2” has the usual plot machinations of horror films. Weird things start happening and the characters deny them (this reviewer has yet to figure out how characters in horror flicks can pass off dead people walking around the house and pianos playing by themselves as ‘just seeing things’). The movie also provides some backstory as to why these specific demons or ghosts are haunting this family. There are intriguing twists, which do a fair job of keeping the audience in the dark.

    The most controversial element of the first movie, referred to as “The Further,” makes a return in this second film with mixed effect. The Further is an alternate dream world that can be accessed via sleeping, and is the most supernatural aspect of the movie. The Further was much maligned in the first movie; it was presented toward the end of the film, and many felt its introduction undermined what the rest of the movie had established. In “Insidious 2,” The Further and the real world are juxtaposed, where the events in either directly influence the other. This makes for engaging crosscutting between the two worlds during the film’s climax. However, there are apparently no rules for The Further, or, if there are any, they are convoluted and undercut any logic that the plot provides. One simply has to go along with whatever rationale the movie gives.

    Scares are of the typical jump variety, induced by loud noises and sudden edits. The camerawork, though, can be quite clever and misleading. Shots that last longer than usual trick the viewer, misdirecting them as to where the scare is going to occur. These long shots allow tension to build, and the end result is much more effective — and frightening — than the usual jump scares. However, the film does not have anything even remotely as disconcerting, though, as the first film’s use of music by 1960s American folk singer Tiny Tim. Tim’s voice possesses a certain strange quality, and when combined with the creepy atmosphere of the first film, it is no surprise that the music was what really perturbed audiences. The sequel would certainly have benefitted from such a memorable aspect, as no one particular moment sticks out.

    Apart from lead actor Wilson, the acting ability ranges from stilted to adequate. There’s nothing to write home about here as the dialogue simply functions as explanations for what’s happening on-screen. Plainly stated, the actors get the job done. However, Wilson shines above the other actors as he plays a well-meaning patriarchal figure who wants to protect his family, until he slowly begins to transform into a menacing presence.

    “Insidious: Chapter 2” is a decent flick, but considering the announcement of a possible third installment, it will more than likely be a single link in the chain of “Insidious” movies, each diminishing in quality.

    Grade: C

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